Programming Imaginations With Impossible Imagery is the New Black

J. M. W. Turner

“If I could find anything blacker than black, I'd use it.” – J. M. W. Turner, Born Apr. 23, 1775.

This one isn't about the content of the quote, but more about the implications of it.

Turner couldn't find paint that was any blacker than the paints he used. He could never actually accurately show people the images in his mind.

But through the simple use of words, he was able to EXACTLY describe a thing that did not exist. With that description, we can understand exactly what he meant.

Even though it's a substance that does not actually exist.

Do you get it?


The imagination is a simulator. But unlike any other simulator we know of, it can simulate things that do not actually exist. Paint is a simulator. Clay is. Even computers are. But they can't imagine the way a brain can.

And it can do it with great fidelity, and can do it unbound by the physical and material limitations of the world we find ourselves in.

That is why of all artists, writers have a unique advantage.

Even in this modern age where we can create high definition 3D visuals of literally anything one can imagine, not limited to the selection of pigments that Turner was – those renderings are still things that must be visible to the eyes.

And so it is with music. No musician can create music that goes beyond the sounds that human ears can hear.

But in writing, I just described to you the possibility of music that goes beyond what the human ear can hear. You can imagine it, even if you will never hear it.

Borges once said that if you can't write the greatest book ever written, you can just write a story ABOUT the greatest book ever written, and still be the creator of it.

Writing can create images that the eyes couldn't even detect. Words can make thoughts and desires visible. Words can describe experiences that defy visual representation. Same with all senses. Same with memories. Same with fantasies and daydreams and hopes.

And that is why we writers are powerful.

And dangerous.

We can literally break the limitations of reality and put ideas in people's minds. We can program the most sophisticated simulation machine ever known, and we can override and exceed the natural sensory inputs that normally limit this imagination engine.

Do you realize how amazing that is?

Do you realize how terrible that is?

Well-written work can literally create INVOLUNTARY and IRRESISTIBLE changes in the reader's mind.

And I can do this. You can do this. Anyone literate has this power over any other literate person.

What can we do with it? What can't we?

I use it to get people to give me money. Any other ideas?

1 thought on “Programming Imaginations With Impossible Imagery is the New Black”

  1. This is my favourite article so far. I'm an avid reader of fiction, who, since deciding to undertake a copywriting course, has decided to temporarily put my fantasy world to one side. Your comparison of fiction writing to copywriting was heartening and helps me reaffirm my chosen path. Thank you.


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